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Hexagons, IF, and Faith Adventures

This weekend was the IF:Gathering, and like the previous two years, leading an IF:Local in my city kind of took over my life.  I know that sounds like a bad thing, but it really isn't.  I love serving my city and the women in my small church that get to attend our big event in this way.

This year's IF:Gathering decor was full of the hexagon pattern.  It became so much a part of my life, as I built big hexagon art for the stage and stamped programs and table runners, that my son was convinced it was my favorite thing.  Like this SAT analogy:  my son Gabe is to Star Wars as mom is to hexagons.  Monday was my birthday, and at the dinner table, Gabe wanted to know why everyone in the family hadn't drawn me a hexagon picture.

The truth is that Gabe isn't wrong.  I have been a little in love with the hexagon shape for a while.  I even used hexagons in my writing when I wrote my eBook Faith Adventures last year.

I want to share the chapter with my hexagon scripture analogy.  Here it is, my chapter on the Great Commission.  Enjoy:


GREAT COMMISSION

And Jesus came and said to them, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.
— Matthew 28:18-20 ESV

When my father-in-law was on his deathbed, I was pregnant with my youngest son Gabe.  The hospital had us put on paper scrubs and gloves because Don had developed a virus.  All garbed up, I went into that room to say goodbye to this man who had been such a huge part of my life.  What do you say?  I’ll tell you what we said.  “I love you.”  He was very weak, but we knew what was important.  We both wanted to make sure we knew that there was nothing but love between us.

Last words are important.

The words Jesus gave us before He ascended into heaven to sit at the right hand of the Father, those words are crucial.  We call those words, the Great Commission.

These words are our parting instructions and our biggest job as the church.

There are a lot of action words in this command.  Sometimes we can get bogged down on just one of them.  

This is not unlike when I ask my son to do multiple chores at once.  Sometimes his ears hear only one command.  I'll say, “Take these dishes to the sink, rinse them off, take the trash out from the kitchen and from the bathrooms, and put new trash bags in.”  Ninety-nine percent of the time, what happens is the dishes are sitting on the counter not rinsed off and the trash is in the dumpster, but there is no trash bag in any of the trash cans.

It isn't because my son is a bad, disobedient kid.  It's because our kid ears don't always input information in.  (Unless it has to do with cheat codes to video games.  Then our kids become Rain Man all of the sudden.  Unfortunately, there are no Rain Man powers for our dishes.  Just once, I'd like my son to walk up and tell me, “There are 32 clean dishes put up in the cabinet, and I put 8 cups, 5 plates, 9 forks, 2 bowls, 6 spoons, and one knife in the dishwasher that I added soap to and started.”  If that happened, I might faint.)

I know about this kid ear problem because I remember having it.  My parents would give me instructions, but I would be busy being glued to a tv set watching something like Small Wonder or Pee Wee's Playhouse.  I wouldn't hear one word.

The genius comic strip writer Charles Schulz nailed it when he coined the adult to kid, “Mwa-Mwa-Mwa” muted trombone sound.

As we look at all the verbs in the Great Commission, let's try our best to not tune out any of the command.  He tells us to go, make, baptize, and teach.

The second thing that my human immaturity sees as I look at that list, is time.  I start to think what a long term project this sounds like Jesus is calling us to do.

But we aren't alone in this endeavor.

Jesus promised to send a helper, the Holy Spirit, to never leave us and to dwell with us.  The greek word Jesus actually used was parakletos which means “comforter” or “counselor.”

My brother-in-law Donnie Lane often points out that we get our word for parrot from the same greek word parakletos.  The same way a parrot would sit on its owner's shoulder and come along for his day of pirating or whatever else parrot owners do, the Holy Spirit comes along side us while we live this life of faith adventuring.

In my kids' home school co-op, this amazing, creative mom planned a whole class math and science that involved a weekly bubble station.  I was unsure of how we were going to play with bubbles all year long and learn math and science, but I was excited about it.

Guess what.  I did learn something.  One lesson in particular stuck with me.  We learned about bee hives by playing with bubbles.

I had always kind of wondered why and how bees make their hives into those perfect little hexagons, but I had never been curious enough to research it.

Maybe my kid brain thought bees could count to six, and that they liked making little line patterns with their wax.

Hexagons are actually a naturally occurring shape in nature that forms with flexible circles are pressed into each other.

In the bubble station we did this experiment.  We took two 10” x 12” pieces of plexiglass that were fashioned together with an inch gap between them.  Then we took a plastic straw and blew bubbles to fill the space in between the plexiglass.

As the space filled up with bubbles and room became precious, the packed in bubbles pressed against other bubbles and began to become hexagon shaped instead of circles.  Each circle was pressed against six other circles, and the slight pressure of competing for space formed a side, which means that each bubble had six sides.

The bubbles naturally did this as they existed within the group of bubbles.

As the church, we are in community together trying to fulfill this Great Commission that Jesus left us with.

As we gently press into each other, we form one united thing, His church.  As we work together, sharing the space God gives us to do His work, we all become shaped a little different.  We all become a little more like Him.

As we look into a beautifully formed beehive with hexagons brimming with sweet honey, I think that is a picture of what His church can be.

I pray we press into our place in His Church and appreciate the sweetness of unity.

The command of the Great Commission is a little less overwhelming when I know I have the Holy Spirt and my fellow believers working together to accomplish it.

Lord, help us to feel the importance of your command in the Great Commission.  Help us to constantly see ways we can do every verb in that command: go, make, baptize, teach.  Thank you for sending the Holy Spirit to help us, comfort us, and counsel us.  Give us ears to hear His promptings.  Lord, help us to remember that you have made us Your temple.  Help us to be unified with other believers so that we can be the one church, one, body, one bride that you intend us to be.  Help us to have grace and love as sweet as honey towards our fellow church members.  We long to work together to accomplish your commission.  In Jesus' name, Amen.

 

Reflection:

  1. Which verb in the Great Commission have you put the most focus on?  What would it look like to concentrate on actively follow through with Jesus' whole command?
  2. How has the Holy Spirit been a helper to you in the past?  Has he ever helped you as you made disciples?
  3. Have you thought of the global church as one item, like one beehive, before?  How can you bring more unity to your local church and/or the global church?
  4. How have other Christians pressed into you and caused you to look a little more like Jesus?
  5. Read the Great Commission again.  What is the Holy Spirit prompting you to do right now, this week?

The following chapter was an excerpt of the eBook Faith Adventures by Jennifer L. Lane.  It can be purchased on Amazon for just $2.99.


I loved singing this with our IF:Local, IF:Amarillo, this weekend.

Outsider

Yesterday I glanced out of my kitchen window and saw a bicycle ride by.  It was Michael.  He always has a boyish appearance, with a bright baseball cap and torn jeans.  Getting to know him, I’ve learned that he isn’t a young guy, in fact, he has an adult son.

Michael is one of the many homeless that have become a fixture of our downtown church location since beginning our ministry at Citychurch.  He even worked in our church’s kitchen for a period of time, but it was short-lived since he was let go because of thievery.

I have two thoughts as I see Michael ride past my house.

One, I feel thankful that I live on a street where people we encounter, try to love, in our ministry downtown would ride past my home.

Two, I wonder about Michael’s son.  The last time I talked to Michael, in the middle of this summer while I was in the neighborhood delivering lunches to kids, Michael’s son was enrolling for college.  I wonder how his son is doing in college.  I wonder how he feels having a bike-riding, panhandling, homeless dad.  I wonder if it makes him driven to become something, ashamed, or both.  I wonder how I would feel if my dad was homeless.

This week has been hard for me.  My husband has been out of town, and he makes home feel like home.  He makes church feel like our church.  I’ve felt very unconnected to the people around me.  I’ve felt like my heart is homeless.

I am trying to be thankful for this feeling.  I am trying to be thankful for the reminder that this world isn’t my home.

I’ve felt like an outsider this week, and that is what He calls us to be.  Jesus was our example.  Jesus was just as homeless as Michael.  Jesus lived as an outsider; he died as an outsider.  We love, do good, and share with the outsiders because He was an outsider and so are we.

So Jesus also suffered outside the gate in order to sanctify the people through his own blood. Therefore let us go to him outside the camp and bear the reproach he endured. For here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city that is to come. Through him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name. Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.
— Hebrews 13:12-16 ESV

I would like to say that it is all very beautiful to feel like an outsider, and I’ve loved everyone so well because of this reminder.  I haven’t handled this week well at all.  I’ve pushed others away.  I’ve felt sorry for myself.  I’ve worried; I’ve wept.

Feeling like an outsider isn’t easy.

He promises to equip us.  I’m counting on that today.  I need it badly.

Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, equip you with everything good that you may do his will, working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.
— Hebrews 13:20-21 ESV

Sometimes we need Jesus to equip us to just make it through a hard week or two, and sometimes we need Jesus to equip us to actually share with actual homeless men, women, and children.  I don’t want to overstate me and my homeless-feeling heart.  It is nothing compared to the trauma, hurt, and needs of people who don’t have a home at all.  Sitting in my lovely home, longing for the fulfillment that Heaven will some day bring would sound like such a luxury to many in my city and many more in the poverty of third world countries.

Let us strive to love the outsider, whether that outsider is a fellow human in need or that outsider is just us.

Let brotherly love continue.
— Hebrews 13:1 ESV

 

 

I like to share music on my blog.  Here's a song for you.  There's nothing wrong with an instrumental interlude now and then.

Guest blogging: Breaking Light

My sweet friend Anna Smit, who lives in The Netherlands, has a blog series going called Breaking Light. She invited me to be a part of her series, and I'd love for you to read it.  What I love about Anna is that she isn't afraid to talk about deep issues, and you'll not only find it in our post, you'll find it in her writing too.

Click here to read my interview with Anna.  We talk about community, deep valleys, my brother's death, and God's truth becoming real in your lives.  I'd love it if you'd leave a comment and let Anna know how much you appreciate her series.